Think your dog has what it takes to earn the coveted title of Canine Good Citizen? Put him to the test at the end of this month, when the Pennsylvania SPCA will kick off a CGC prep class for promising pups. Led by certified pet trainer and PSPCA volunteer Beth Strecker, the class will give you and your dog all the tools you need to ace the test – not to mention some quality time refining manners together. For the scoop on what to expect when you sign up, we asked Beth our most pressing questions:
Who is the class designed for, and are there any behavior pre-requisites for joining?
Classes are designed for dogs who are well behaved and well cared for. Your dog has to know some basic commands like Sit, Down and Stay, and he or she must be able to walk nicely on a leash.
What are some of the benefits people can expect from attending the class with their dog?
Participants will learn all the behaviors required to pass the test, and will have the opportunity to practice them so your dog knows them well. Taking a prep class also helps the human half of the team to be more relaxed during the test because you know their dog can do what is asked.
What about dogs who have good manners overall but who become overexcited around other pets…can they still be good candidates for class?
Yes, I can work on that during the class. As long as the owner is committed to working with their dog every day, an issue like that can be fixed. This isn’t an obedience class, but I can work with an otherwise well-mannered dog to help him overcome this particular challenge.
Why should pets earn a Canine Good Citizen certificate? What can they go on to do?
If you want to move on to Therapy Work with your dog, CGC is required. Also, some insurance companies require CGC certification for homeowner policies for certain breeds of dogs (not that this is at all fair). The certification can also give you one more reason to brag about how wonderful your dog is!
What are the keys to completing the class successfully?
As long as your dog pays attention to you and is rewarded for doing what is asked, s/he will be successful – not only in CGC but in any type of training. Training should be fun for both you and your dog, and this class will be rewarding whether or not you ultimately pass the test!
Class starts Thursday, July 18 at 7:15 p.m. and runs for six weeks. The CGC test will be administered on August 22. Sign up online or call Keryl Hausmann at 215-901-3279 or Beth Strecker at 215-901-9323 to register. Classes and the test are held at the PSPCA, 350 E. Erie Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19134.
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About Beth Strecker
I’ve been working with animals (dogs, horses, cats, rabbits, etc.) for as long as I can remember. I started training about 15 years ago and became certified seven years ago. I am also certified in Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities through Camden County College. I have been a volunteer at the PSPCA for more than 40 years, and I have eight shelter dogs of my own. I love working with shelter dogs and witnessing the difference I can make in their lives; seeing a formerly scared dog get adopted into a good forever home really warms my heart. I also teach Basic, Advanced Obedience and Puppy classes, and offer private in-home training as well.
For a pet lover and animal welfare advocate, food choices can be fraught with guilt. But while making a major lifestyle shift like adopting a vegan diet may seem daunting to the uninitiated, starting with small changes can help ease newbies into the process. Here to help is Nicole D’Angelo, a Philly girl with a full plate of fantastic foods and a vegan recipe blog to boot. We sat down with Nicole for the skinny on cooking cruelty-free.
What inspired you to begin the blog?
I wanted to share my favorite vegan recipes because I believe that a plant-based diet benefits our health, the planet and helps to end the suffering of animals. I also wanted to help others understand what a vegan diet is and how easy it is to be vegan.
What is the most challenging thing about vegan cooking/baking?
Finding new and interesting ways to cook so many different foods that are new to me. It takes a lot of experimentation and planning ahead.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to use? Favorite all-time recipe?
Brown rice pasta, garbanzo bean flour, Earth Balance “butter,” coconut oil, almond milk, beans, spinach and kale. I love my veggie burger recipe! (Hint, grill some up with her Potato Salad recipe for the 4th!)
How has being a vegan changed your approach to your health and diet?
I feel more energetic, I’ve become motivated to start running (I did Broad Street in May) and I’ve tried so many new vegetables that I never would have tried had I not become vegan. I still try to watch my sugar intake, and I’ve tried different natural sweeteners in my baking.
What is your advice for someone who may be thinking about incorporating more vegan meals into their diet?
Start out small and don’t be hard on yourself. You can start by giving up red meat, then all meat and then start cutting out one animal product at a time: eggs, cheese, then food additives made from animal products. It was the hardest for me to let go of cheese because I’m Italian but I just think about where it comes from and I remember why I don’t eat it. Even If you can only have a few vegan meals per week, it will still make a difference in your health and the planet.
More about Nicole:
I became vegan in January of 2011 as part of my New Year’s resolution and I’ve learned so much about cooking, food, animals and the environment. I enjoy writing, running, yoga and reading and I especially love animals! My sister has a 6-year-old Cockapoo named Tavor, who I adore. Along with my love for animals, I also enjoy helping people. I’m a social worker for adults and children with developmental disabilities. I am inspired by happy people who spread joy and healthy living to others and I hope I can do this through my blog.
On Saturday, June 22, Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers responded to complaints about strong animal odors emanating from a house on the 2800 Block of Walnut Hill Street and found 17 terrified animals – 14 small dogs and three cats – living in deplorable conditions.
SPCA officials report that the dogs and cats were living in their own waste in the basement of the house in what was likely an illegal breeding operation. Most of the dogs had filthy matted coats and were infested with fleas, and the cats were in similar poor health. The ammonia level in the house was so high that officers had to wear a special breathing apparatus to rescue the animals.
The fate of those pets hangs in the balance, as none of the animals were surrendered to the officers, which means they remain legal property of their owners until the conclusion of court proceedings. The owners have been charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty.
Until their case is adjudicated through the court system, the animals will be held in protective custody at the Pennsylvania SPCA, where they will receive the medical attention and basic care they need.
Cases like this highlight the need for change in the way animal victims of cruelty are handled by the court. House Bill 82 – aka the “Costs of Care of Seized Animals” act – is currently pending passage by the Pennsylvania State Senate (it passed the House in January). If greenlighted, the bill would provide a legal recourse to fund the care of animals held as evidence in these cases; owners being prosecuted for cruelty to their animals can either pay for the costs of caring for them, or relinquish them – allowing shelters to make them available for adoption. The legislation would provide for the animals and protect the shelters caring for them from financial hardship, while preserving the due process rights of criminal defendants not to have their property taken away from them before trial.
The current anti-cruelty law, Pennsylvania Crimes Code Section 5511, provides no way for non-profit organizations to recover the costs of caring for animals seized from neglect or abuse. In 2012 alone, the Pennsylvania SPCA petitioned the courts for $744,000 in restitution for the cost of care of animals removed from cruelty situations. They received a mere $31,000. Meanwhile, none of the financial burden of care falls on the owner, and shelters like the Pennsylvania SPCA are left to depend on fundraising appeals, with mixed results.
Help pass H.B. 82 by contacting your senator and urging him or her to vote “YES” today, before the Legislature recesses on June 30. You can also make a donation to the Pennsylvania SPCA to help fund the care of the animals who were seized.
On June 18, the Pennsylvania SPCA rescued 18 cats from a hoarding situation in Bridesburg. On June 12, the organization executed a search warrant and rescued 14 cats in East Mount Airy.
“Summer is typically a time when we begin to see a lot of hoarders,” said George Bengal, Director of Humane Law Enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA. “With warmer temperatures, odors and insect infestations that accompany hoarding situations become more apparent. Thankfully, we will be able to get these animals into a healthier situation.”
Who will pay to keep them there remains to be seen.
Springtime is a busy season for area shelters, who must manage the annual influx of new litters of puppies and kittens in addition to all of the adult animals they serve. This makes summer the perfect time to support those shelters – and save lives – by adopting a new pet.
On June 15-16, a group of local rescues and shelters is hosting a mega-adoption event: the All Paws on Deck adoption festival at the Plymouth Meeting Petsmart store on Chemical Road.
From small dogs to big dogs, puppies to kittens, purebreds to mutts, and cats of all kinds, HUNDREDS of animals will need rescuing – and you can find the new love of your life from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
All Paws on Deck will be the Philadelphia region’s biggest adoption event to date, and rain or shine, the participating groups will be out there working their – ahem – tails off to reach the goal of 300 adoptions for the weekend.
Don’t wait to find your perfect mate! Let the expert matchmakers from the animal welfare world help you find that special someone, and come prepared to adopt!
A few pointers for prospective new pet parents:
Bring your photo ID! You’ll need photo ID with your current address in order to process your adoption.
Bring the whole family! Your children and other members of the household should meet any animals you’re interested in adopting so the whole family is on board. If you’re looking to adopt a dog and already have one at home, consider bringing your dog to meet his potential new sibling, to make sure everyone gets along.
If you’re looking for a new dog, come prepared with a leash. If you’re looking for a new cat, bring a carrier. (If you don’t have a leash or carrier, don’t worry. Leashes, carriers and other supplies for your new pet will be available. The event is at Petsmart, after all!)
Mark June 15-16 on your calendar, and don’t miss this amazing opportunity to save two lives – the animal you adopt, and the one who will take his place at the shelter.
The adoption staff at ACCT Philly often gets photos and updates from shelter alumni, but last month, they received a great surprise when they learned one of their own is now starring in his very own book!
Chance and Chip…A Match made in Heaven tells the amazing story of two plucky mutts who braved the elements, beat the odds and found the perfect family. Authored by dad-and-daughter team Chris and Angeline George, the book is available for download on Amazon.
We sat down with Chris for the backstory on what inspired this one-of-a-kind “tail.”
Lots of people rescue dogs, but few write books about them! What moved you to actually sit down and put pen to paper?
My daughter and I have been talking about writing a children’s book for a while. Then one day I thought about the unusual set of circumstances that brought our two dogs into our family and Chance and Chip’s book was born.
Whose idea was the book? How did you get started? How long did it take you to write?
The initial idea was mine and then Angeline joined me in writing the story as well as designing the artwork. We started by just writing the story as a narrator, but then it switched to a story told from Chance and Chip’s perspective.The book took about six weeks to complete.
Have you and your daughter ever teamed up on projects before? Are you a family of writers? How old is your daughter?
No, we have not worked on any other books together. My daughter definitely loves writing and being creative with stories and drawing. Angeline is 9 years old.
What do you hope readers gain from your book? What’s to be learned in the story of Chip and Chance?
Think long and hard before taking on the responsibility of a pet. If you decide to move forward in adding a pet to your family, local shelters and rescues are filled with dogs: puppies and full-grown, small and large, mixed and purebreds. Have no doubt that there is a perfect match waiting somewhere for you. Stay away from pet stores that only perpetuate the demand for puppies from puppy mills. If permanently adding a dog to your situation is not a possibility, fostering is another great option that many people are not aware of…it is challenging, rewarding and fun. The shelter workers and volunteers are wonderful, dedicated people to work with.
Has your family always had pets? What made you want to rescue/adopt rather than purchase from a breeder?
My wife and I grew up with dogs as part of our families and when we decided the time was right to bring a pet into our family, we visited ACCT in Philly after seeing their ad on Craigslist. After walking through and seeing the amount of abandoned healthy dogs it was a no-brainer. So we decided to foster our first dog, which was more than just bringing a dog into our home. We were helping this dog get healthy, learn social skills and possibly help it to find its forever home. But our house became Chance’s forever home. He also helped us to foster Mercy, Dunkin, Libby and Crosby…all puppies that we raised and found forever homes for.
What have you learned from having these two particular dogs in the family?
We have learned the pros and cons of having both a large, strong breed and a small breed. We have also experienced firsthand the breed discrimination against pit bulls that is so prevalent in our society. We have also experienced, with training, what wonderful, loyal dogs they are capable of becoming; for it is the owners that determine the dog’s behavior, not the breed.
Any words of advice or inspiration for others who might want to tell their pets’ tales?
For those who are fostering or have adopted from shelters and rescues, be inspired: GET THE WORD OUT! The more the public is educated, the emptier our shelters will be.
How does it feel seeing the final product for sale? Will you write more in the future?
It is a wonderful accomplishment and worth every minute we spent on it. We hope to see it in print someday and not just in ebook format. Depending on the response to our book, we would love to continue the adventures of Chance and Chip…and any other future dogs we might be fortunate enough to foster.